Several bills flirting with the finish line are up in the air as the Missouri Senate continues to break down in the final two days of the legislative session.

One bill would allow hearing aids and cochlear implants to be provided to all eligible Missouri Medicaid patients – not just low-income children, pregnant women, and visually-impaired people. Rep. Cameron Parker, R-Campbell, is the sponsor of House Bill 2626.

Dr. Kate Sinks, director of audiology for the Center for Hearing and Speech in St. Louis, said she hopes the bill passes this session.

“I believe it is a fundamental human right to be able to communicate,” said Sinks. “It is providing building blocks for social interaction, financially supporting your family, and increasing mental health. Being able to have access to appropriate medical care is critical to the success of an individual’s quality of life.”

How does Missouri stack up against other states on providing such Medicaid coverage?

“Missouri would not be considered the forerunner in this,” she said. “Thirty-seven states already have comprehensive coverage for hearing aids and cochlear implants in the United States. And so, Missouri needs to join them.”

Sinks said not adequately taking care of hearing problems can cause other health problems.

“There are correlational links between untreated hearing loss and increased risk for cognitive decline, including dementia and Alzheimer’s. For every 10 decibels of hearing loss a person has, it increases their risk an additional 50%,” said Sinks.

The Missouri legislative session must end by no later than 6 p.m. Friday.

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